Trump Corner: Delayed turn-lane project may be done by August

Work ramps up again on Palm Beach County project seven months after initial completion date; stalled supplies to blame.

Trump Corner

Seven months after its scheduled completion date, workers are back on the job at the so-called Trump Corner in Palm Beach Gardens. But completion is more than two months away.

When the county scheduled a 10-month construction project to add a right turn lane at Military Trail and PGA Boulevard, supporters of Donald Trump (and Gov. Ron DeSantis) complained construction was a convenient way to silence their weekly Friday rallies, particularly in the run-up to the governor’s reelection.

But the work didn’t conclude as scheduled just before the November election that propelled DeSantis to a second term. It dragged on, with occasional lane closures and a long period where nothing happened at all.

At fault, the county says, are delays in the delivery of the massive steel mast arms to replace the corner’s hanging traffic signals. The project’s new completion date is the end of July, Deputy County Engineer Joanne Keller said in emails.

Supply delays are common nationwide and have stalled other county and school district construction projects, adding significantly to the cost in many cases but no new cost decisions have been made on the Trump Corner project.

The delays got so bad the city of Palm Beach Gardens put out an email to its residents about the road work there and at Northlake Boulevard and Military, advising “these are Palm Beach County projects and the city of Palm Beach Gardens is not in charge of the progress or timeline.” 

The delay meant no turn lanes during the busiest part of the season, when the Honda Classic golf tournament and the Artigras Fine Arts Festival brought thousands of visitors to the area.

For its part, the county says it didn’t order the mast arms; the contractor, R&D Paving, did. The county selected R&D for the $1.26 million construction contract in September 2021. 

The county can’t pinpoint when R&D placed the orders that extended work far past the original Oct. 29 completion date.

 “We don’t expect the documentation on when the mast arms were ordered to be provided to us until closer to the end of the project,” Keller wrote.

Turn-lane project costs $2.7 million

PGA and Military Trail
Workers begin to mobilize for the final stage of construction at PGA and Military Trail outside the Publix at Garden Square Shoppes. (Joel Engelhardt photo)
Work continues on the reconfigured parking outside the Publix at Gardens Square Shoppes. (Joel Engelhardt photo)

Most of the job leading up to the intersection, however, is finished, with new curb, gutter and sidewalk flanking the Publix-anchored Garden Square Shoppes on Military Trail. Construction continues on reconfiguring Publix parking spaces, needed after the county seized by eminent domain a 13-foot-wide strip along Military Trail.

The county is paying for that work as part of the project. Overall costs now top $2.7 million, including more than $1.17 million in land costs and legal fees to seize about a fifth of an acre. 

It’s unlikely the county will recoup any of that from the contractor over the delayed mast arms, Keller wrote.

“At this point in the project, most of the delays have been due to unforeseen conflicts with utilities and delays in material availability. It is unlikely that the contractor is at fault for any of those items,” she wrote.

Traffic signals
Traffic signals dangle over the intersection of Military Trail and PGA Boulevard. (Joel Engelhardt photo)
PGA and Military Trail
Drilling for mast arm installation on Friday May 12 at the southwest corner of PGA and Military Trail. (Joel Engelhardt photo)
mast arms
Concrete and steel foundation for one of two mast arms at Military Trail and PGA, as installed on May 12. (Joel Engelhardt photo)

All four corners at Military and PGA will get two mast arms, each with separate foundations made of concrete and steel rebar. The cost of the mast arms and the drilled shafts is $455,334.

Such mast arms are considered more resistant to hurricanes than signals dangling on swaying wires over an intersection.

The county identified the need for the project more than 10 years ago. In 2022, county traffic counts showed nearly 34,000 vehicles per day traveling southbound into the intersection along Military Trail and nearly 50,000 a day eastbound on PGA toward Interstate 95.

The work also encountered unexpected underground obstacles, forcing the Seacoast Utility Authority to track down and remove an unidentified sewage line emerging from the Bank of America branch on the corner. 

Engineers also spent time deciding whether an existing water main would be in danger of winding up above ground, but Seacoast engineers persuaded county engineers it would not be in jeopardy and could remain in place, Seacoast Executive Director Rim Bishop said. The county agreed to raise the curb a half-foot to create a mini-retaining wall just in case.

During Trump Corner’s height, organizers blessed the ground with holy water and suffused it in prayer. They even fought off an attempt by Democrats to make use of the space.

Meanwhile, the Trump and DeSantis rallies moved east on PGA Boulevard to a corner next to Legacy Place and across the street from the Gardens Mall.

Read more from Joel in Stet, a weekly Palm Beach County-focused newsletter

© 2023 Joel Engelhardt. All rights reserved.

Author: Joel Engelhardt

Joel Engelhardt is an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor based in Palm Beach Gardens. He spent more than 40 years in the newspaper business, including 28 years at The Palm Beach Post. As a reporter, he covered countywide growth, the 2000 election and the birth of Cityplace in West Palm Beach. As an editor, he oversaw probes into the opioid scourge, private prisons, police-involved shootings and more. For seven years, he worked on the paper’s editorial board. Joel left The Post in December 2020. He and his wife, Donna, have lived together in Palm Beach Gardens since 1992.

3 thoughts on “Trump Corner: Delayed turn-lane project may be done by August”

  1. Seems like a very thorough article on Trump corner. There was no mention of the 5G Street lights they installed.

Leave a Reply